DJ Chark left the Lions after one season in Detroit. Is the wide receiver who will replace him already on the roster?
In March of 2022, the Lions signed free agent wide receiver DJ Chark to a one-year deal. Chark spent four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, including one Pro Bowl campaign (2019). After missing a big chunk of his last season in Jacksonville, Chark was looking to reboot his career in Detroit.
A little over a month later, the Lions moved up 20 spots (from No. 32 to No. 12) in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft to take wide receiver Jameson Williams. General manager Brad Holmes did the unthinkable, trading with a division rival in the Minnesota Vikings.
Williams was coming off a torn ACL in the National Championship game when he was drafted. Taking him was with an eye beyond 2022. Williams played sparingly when he returned for the final six games of last season, as expected. However, he was electric when he touched the ball.
Williams had a touchdown reception for 41 yards and a run for 42 yards that he nearly broke for a score. In the final game of the season vs. Green Bay, Williams had a 65-yard touchdown called back for holding on a flea-flicker pass from Jared Goff.
Can the void left by DJ Chark be filled by Jameson Williams?
Once he he was healthy last season, as an ankle issue cost him six games in the middle of the season, Chark became a difference maker in the Lions’ offense. He topped 90 yards three times in a four-week span, while averaging 20.8 yards per catch over five games from Week 13-17. Overall His 16.7-yard-per-catch average on the season was top five in the NFL if he had qualified for the official leaderboard. It was not too surprising, but Chark took his talents to Carolina in free agency by signing a one-year deal with the Panthers.
Holmes did not make the move for Williams to only be a gadget player or have a limited role. Williams can run the entire route tree, and he’s faster than any cornerback who lines up in front of him as long as his knee is healthy. Williams has rare gear of speed Chark does not possess. Chark was holding down the spot, as not a likely part of the long-term plan.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has already mentioned how he has big plans for Williams in 2023. In terms of a strict replacement for Chark, Williams can truly be that and more.